Olympic Marseille have announced that they will not be playing their opening game of the season against Montpellier at their home stadium, the Stade Velodrome, according to Sky Sports.
The Stade Velodrome is currently being modified before the 2016 European championship, which is set to be held in several stadiums around France. However, these modifications have come a high price which has led to the officials in Marseille changing the rent of the stadium to the club. Marseille are unhappy about the amount that the officials are demanding and are refusing to play within the stadium.
178 kilometre journey
The club announced on their website that the first home game of the season would not be played in Marseille, instead at the Stade de la Mosson, home on Montpellier which is 178km away. The club also apologised to the fans but laid the blame with the officials.
The statement said that Marseille did everything it could to get the game at the Stade Velodrome, so the fans could support their team, but the unwavering decision from the state’s officials meant that the club had no other option.
"After the most recent negotiations to reach an agreement on the rental tariff of the Stade Velodrome broke down with the Marseille town hall, the Olympique de Marseille directors announce that OM will not play in Marseille," read a statement on the club's official website.
"The first home match of the season, against Montpellier on the weekend of 15-17 August, will be played at the Stade de la Mosson.
"Olympique de Marseille, once again, apologises to its supporters."
They also said that their boycott of the stadium was to protect the club and its interests as the club could not afford to pay the new rent rates the officials were demanding.
Marseille have not confirmed whether the second home game, due to be played against Nice on the weekend of the 29th of August, will be played at the Stade Velodrome as it is unclear whether the discussions with the officials will continue.
Marseille would have been hoping to avoid such a major distraction to their pre-season preparations. The club face a battle to get back into European football after missing out this season after a sixth place finish last year.
Marcelo Bielsa, the club’s first Argentinian manager who took over in May, was set to be the first coach to lead the team out into the renovated Velodrome yet will have to wait for the honour.
Marseille fans will be hoping for a turnaround in fortunes this season. After a promising second place finish to PSG two seasons ago, the squad struggled last season both in Europe and in the league leading to the sacking of manager Elie Baup.
His successor Jose Anigo couldn’t turn the clubs fortunes around, and saw the club miss out on European football for the first time in a decade. However, by the looks of this saga before the start of the season, it could be a long season for the Marseille faithful.